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Mass exodus? PDF
Wednesday, 04 January 2012 05:00

Expats set to return  to UK en masse in 2012?

It may come as a surprise to learn that Spain is the eurozone's fourth-largest economy. What may NOT be such a surprise is that Spain is set to see rising unemployment and zero growth in 2012.

Registered unemployment in Spain rose for a fifth consecutive month in December to 4.42 million, over 20% of the adult population.

And Fitch, the credit ratings agency, has cut its Spanish growth forecast for the coming year from 0.5% to zero.

For the Spanish economy a long period of no growth will only send property prices lower and undermine the finances of local banks.

So how will all this affect British citizens who are resident in Spain?

Within Europe more British people live in Spain than anywhere else and they face the worst prospects of all. Most are not looking for a job, but if they were, yesterday's unemployment figures tell them there is little chance of finding one any time soon.

Adding to the misery for British expats is the low value of the pound compared to just a few years ago. With pensions or rental incomes from property owned in Britain paid in sterling, they have suffered a huge fall in living standards.

With falling property prices, no growth, rising unemployment and devalued incomes from Britain, it is no surprise that surveys regularly find three-quarters of expats want to come home.

The lure of free healthcare, free bus passes and pensions rising in line with inflation adds to the UK's attractiveness.

However, if YOU are thinking of heading back maybe you should think again. The UK economy, which is the most indebted in the world (in relation to GDP) once private debts are included, will be in recession soon. Many social security benefits treasured by the elderly are on the chopping block, and care for the elderly is suffering some of the worst of health secretary Andrew Lansley's cuts.

Neither country is going to have an enjoyable 2012, that’s for sure. And isn’t it better to be “poor” in Spain than “poor” in the UK?

© Paul Whitelock

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Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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